Robert Novak was on C-SPAN on Friday, and he took the opportunity to slime me. I don’t know what the conservative columnist has against yours truly. Countless times in the past three years I’ve explained to outraged White House critics that Novak could not be charged under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (which applies mainly to government officials and only to journalists who engage in a pattern of identifying undercover CIA officers with the intent of harming the spy service). I haven’t even criticized him much–if at all–for publishing the Plame leak, for, as a journalist, I assign more culpability to the leakers in this case (Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby) than the leak conveyors (Novak, Matt Cooper). Yet Novak has a bug up his keister about me, and he let it fly on C-SPAN.
I suspect his antipathy has something to do with his legal bills. He seems to blame me for the investigation that proceeded the leak he published–an inquiry that caused him to hire a lawyer and say nothing for two-and-a-half years. On C-SPAN, he declared,
There was an enormous hue and cry that was ginned up by left-wing journalists such as David Corn of The Nation and a left-wing investigative team from Newsday. And with Senator Chuck Schumer leading the way, some very partisan Democrats hyped up the case.
And, in Novak’s telling, this all led to “a very unnecessary investigation.” While presenting his paranoid account–a “left-wing investigative team” from Newsday?–he failed to mention that the CIA first examined the leak and then asked the Justice Department for an FBI investigation. I find it difficult to believe that my one web-column or the remarks of Senator Schumer somehow caused the CIA lawyers to do something they would not have otherwise done. Maybe I am too modest.
Novak was not content to assail me for concocting a scandal (would if I could!); he got personal when referring to the new book I wrote with Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War:
That’s a very odd couple: Isikoff and Corn. Isikoff says he is non-ideological and nonpartisan. I think he is. I think he’s a great investigative reporter….Corn is a left-wing ideologue from The Nation magazine. In Mr. [Joseph] Wilson’s memoir, he has Corn advising him, telling him that a law was broken, egging him on. So he was a part of the whole buildup of this story. And its deeply ironic that his book is the book that is being used to indicate that there was no conspiracy. You can’t in your wildest imagination imagine Armitage as part of a plot to undermine the Wilsons. So, of course, Corn is frantic. He’s writing blogs and writing in The Nation saying there was another track. Which is a great conspiracy theory. There’s always another track.